VIDEOGAME REVIEW: Telltale's The Walking Dead Season Two
"You can’t save them all."
*Slight spoilers but nothing that TellTale hasn’t already promoted themselves so don’t worry.*
What I Played: All 5 episodes, imported my save from Season One. I played on Playstation 3.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season Two had a lot of hype surrounding it after the lightning in a bottle reaction the first season had on the video game industry. But after its defining first season, how does the second foray into the apocalypse fare?
It’s interestingly great with some questionable choices.
As someone who found the first season to be a refreshing idea that combined an interesting storyline with an appetizing price tag & the subject material to back it up, I was a firm believer in the model Telltale had created here. The characters were great, the dynamic between Lee & Clementine was one for the ages as well.
In Season Two, let’s just say Telltale had their work cut out for them. With the second season focusing completely on the adventures of an older Clementine sharpened by her journey in the previous season, I was skeptical at how I would feel inhabiting the role of a young girl facing the dystopian zombie apocalypse.
But in some miracle of gypsy whispers & pixie magic, Telltale made me believe that a young girl could hold her own in this world. Clementine is still as engaging as ever while still holding her own amidst the myriad of characters that litter this season from some surprising additions to the more pointless forgettable ones.
The overall gist of Season Two is the concept of identity, survival & the greyness in the moral ambiguity of humanity. Whereas Season One had a pretty clear cut villain in its finale, Season Two went for a different route establishing multiple instances of conflict where the lines between good & evil weren’t as clear as some may think.
One of the best additions to Season Two was the conniving feral leader Carver played by Micheal Madsen. Carver is a villain that really felt believable & right at home within the confines of The Walking Dead’s rulebook by combining the ferocious side with the sense of duty & protection of a man who wants to protect those closest to him.
Other interesting additions included characters such as Jane, Luke & since Telltale has made it public knowledge I guess I can say it, Kenny too. There were some really stand out moments that subdued expectations by presenting them in ways that felt earnest but could switch to full on hell on a dime.
I dug that.
The writing in terms of set pieces for the most part felt more mature & realistic leading to some interesting scenarios. I also dug how many characters were introduced or killed in this season even if some of them I couldn’t careless when they died did. I also enjoy the more dynamic action sequences that were clearly inspired by Telltale’s other recent game, The Wolf Among Us.
But my favourite character in this piece wasn’t Clementine or any of the new characters that were introduced, instead it was a returning character from the previous season that really made me applaud the writing.
That character was Kenny.
Kenny surprisingly was the best written & most dynamic character in the entire second season apart from Clementine of course. Becoming one part John Marston, a sprinkle of Joel from The Last Of Us & looking a helluva lot like Solid Snake if he was a redneck, I really dug Kenny’s character. I won’t go into much more talk about the story, but it’s interesting.
However there is definitely some stuff I disliked about the game.
One of my problems was that The Walking Dead still feels more like a "colouring book" than a "choose your own adventure" game. There were moments where I went back to try different choices only to reach the same conclusion which felt cheap as the illusion of choice in many instances led to the same destination.
For example there is a moment where Clementine needs to give a character cover during a gun fight. You can choose to cover this characters ass or tell them it’s a bad idea, well it doesn’t matter if you choose to defend them or not the same thing still happens.
That’s kinda pointless. The same goes for conversations where a character will present you with choices only to have all your choices either be ignored or just to be used as filler so the same thing happens regardless.
What’s the point of giving me choice if my choices don’t matter?
That’s not to say every choice has no meaning as there are moments where you get to choose if someone lives or dies but it’s still annoying. When someone asks for your opinion, you give it & they ignore it & do what they were gonna do anyway well that’s kinda shitty. There was also some moments that felt wasted & some of the character’s deaths & motivations were downright laughable & pointless.
There’s a certain character I dug a lot that dies in a really really stupid way that was so bad I actually paused the game, held my face in my hands & said out loud, “That was really fricken’ stupid.” There are also some set pieces & moments where you need to choose sides between characters in an argument, even though these choices amount to no differences.
There’s only a few true sequences where your choices really affect things, otherwise it’s kinda fluff.
Besides the kinda not choices existing the game still suffers from technical issues like frame rate drops, load times & the syncing of audio & gameplay sometimes not matching up for a hot second. It’s definitely better engineered than the previous season but it’s evident nevertheless.
Finally the final episode was interesting as it was unconventional in design but the ending lacked that emotional "umph" that the previous season had. That being said, this is still worth playing if you enjoy The Walking Dead.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season Two was a roller coaster ride full of emotional sequences, brutal deaths & touching moments of humanity amidst the dystopian zombie apocalypse.
With it’s unconventional style of storytelling partnered with better engineered dynamic action sequences & some standout characters, this season was interesting. Amidst the praise however some technical issues, story quibbles & lack of real choice did muddle an otherwise entertaining second coming of zombie goodness.
If you liked the original season, I’d say give it a look. It’s better designed but it does lack that emotional punch the original had in its conclusion. Still looking forward to Season Three.
Clementine as the main character works really well